Does the musty and mildew-ridden smell of towels make you sick? You're on the same page as us.
Many people believe the only way to get rid of this smell is to throw out the towel itself. While that's the last resort scenario, it doesn't have to be your first plan of action.
Are you wondering how to get the mildew stench out of towels and avoid having to buy new towels every other month? Better yet, how do you avoid getting the towels smelly in the first place?
Here's Why Towels Might Get Smelly
You take the towels out of the dryer, and they smell stinky. It almost seems like a mystery why towels would end up with a mildew or musty smell.
We went Sherlock Holmes on this issue and found the following reasons for foul-smelling towels:
Improper Drying: We've all made the rookie error of leaving towels in the washer or dryer overnight. "I'll take them out in the morning," is what we say, all cozied up in our beds. But what happens is the towels absorb the moisture and create a breeding ground for bacteria.
Humidity and Warmth: Even if you take the towels out immediately, improper storage can result in a musty smell. You want to avoid putting the towels in a poorly ventilated area. The ideal location gets a good amount of air circulation.
Overcrowding: How wonderful would it be if we all had huge closets with plenty of circulation and space? Unfortunately, this is not a luxury many of us have. As a result, we tend to cram as many towels as possible in one space, which can cause them to retain moisture and pick up odors.
Hard Water Deposits: Sometimes, the issue is not your washing regimen but the water itself. Hard water contains elevated levels of magnesium and calcium, which can leave deposits on the towel fibers. The resulting smell can be very unpleasant.
Only Using Detergent: We're not denying the efficacy of a detergent in cleaning the towels. But it's not always enough. Often, adding a dash of vinegar with a few drops of a scented essential oil can do wonders for your towels.
How to Get Mildew and Musty Smells Out of Towels
Now that we've addressed the root causes, let's discuss how to get a musty smell out of towels. For this method, you'll need the following materials:
Essential oils (optional)
Now, follow these steps to get your towels smell-free:
Step 1: Run One Cycle With Vinegar
Place the towels in the washing machine and run a cycle using white vinegar instead of detergent. Due to its acidic nature, vinegar helps remove mildew or bacteria that may have accumulated on the fabric.
Most washing machines have a compartment for fabric softener. That's where you should put the white vinegar.
If your washer doesn't have this compartment, there's no need to worry. Put the towels in the washer tub and let it fill up with warm water. Then, add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle.
Step 2: Run a Second Cycle with Detergent or Baking Soda
For the second cycle, fill the detergent compartment with your regular detergent. If you have a preferred essential oil scent, such as lavender or citrus, add a few drops to the detergent.
Alternatively, you can add half a cup of baking soda to the washer tub and let the cycle finish with warm water. Baking soda is a deodorizer, which means it removes odors from fabric.
Step 3: Dry Them Properly
As already mentioned, proper drying is key to keeping musty odors away.
Now it's time for the towels to go to the dryer. Tumble dry the towels on low heat and run the dryer until they are fully dry.
The second method you can opt for is line drying. It's an eco-friendly way to dry your towels, and it helps keep them smelling fresh. Place the towels outside on a line or balcony rail, and let them air dry in the sun. Make sure to turn them over after a while to ensure even drying.
There you have it! Fresh and pleasant-smelling towels.
Step 4: Store the Towels
Proper towel storage is of utmost importance. If you get this part right, you won't have to deal with stinky scents.
Remember, do not put the towel in the storage closet immediately out of the washer. Dry them first.
Second, do not put too many towels in the closet. Storing too many damp towels together is an open invitation to mildew.
Third, clean the closet before storing the towels. Sometimes, the smell can arise from insect droppings or dust in the cupboard rather than mildew.
Last but not least, if your towels have visible signs of mold, don't try to salvage them. Keeping and using these towels is a health hazard. Discard them right away.
Preventive Tips to Avoid Bad Towel Smells
Taking a 3-step approach to washing your towels every time they have to go into the wash can be a bit tiring. Why not avoid smelly towels in the first place? Here are some tips to help you out with this issue:
Avoid Fabric Softener: We know you love the smell. But fabric softener has to go. It leaves a residue on the fabric that doesn't allow it to breathe, accumulating sweat, dirt, and mildew. The residue also accumulates moisture, which further increases mildew growth. You can use dryer sheets or dryer balls instead to get the towels to come out fluffy.
Dry Properly: After washing, hang the towels up immediately. Give them a good shake to get rid of excess water, and then hang them out in direct sunlight or around a heat source. Do not fold them while they're still wet, as this will trap moisture and increase the chances of mildew growth.
Wash Regularly: Ideally, you should wash your towels every week or after 5 to 6 uses. If you use terry towels, do not wash them with other clothes as they will snag or pull. Always follow the care instructions on the labels when it comes to washing towels.
Clean the Washer: Over time, washing machines can get filled with gunk and residue from detergents, fabric softeners, and other items. These can build up on your towels if you're not careful. Wipe your washing machine on the inner side with white vinegar on a microfiber cloth.
Use the Right Detergent: Low-quality detergents leave a sour smell on your towels. Stick to high-end detergents like Persil and Tide. They contain enzymes to remove stains and dirt from the material without making it stinky.
Keep Them Fresh!
No one wants moldy towels, and stinky towels certainly won't make you feel clean or refreshed. Now that you know how to get the unpleasant smell out of towels, we recommend following this multi-step routine regularly.
Alternatively, just avoid getting your towels stinky by drying them immediately after washing, using a heavy-duty laundry detergent, not overcrowding your linen closet, and airing your towels out in the sun every once in a while.
If that seems like too much work, you can always get help from a laundry service, such as Rinse. The best part about Rinse is that we come to you and pick up and deliver your laundry and dry cleaning– whether it's your favorite suit, athletic gear, or towels.
You can rest assured that your towels will come back smelling fresh and looking great.
Contact us at Rinse today to see our skill in action.